From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Whiting, Pierre, Sr.

(born: 1861  -  died: 1949) 

Pierre Whiting, Sr. was a janitor at the University of Kentucky for 57 years. It is thought that he was the first African American employed at the university and employed longer than any other employee. Whiting's starting date was 1888; he retired in 1945.

Pierre Whiting was born in Woodford County, KY, the son of Fletcher and Martha Whiting [source: Pierre's Kentucky Death Certificate Registrar's no.  344].

Prior to coming to work at UK, Whiting lived in Adamstown, KY where he was a farmhand, according to the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. Piere's wife was Florida Young and their son was Hannibal. His uncle Hannibal Breckinridge lived with the family.

Pierre Whiting started working at the University of Kentucky in 1888. By 1900, he and Florida were no longer together and he was married to Nanine Scott. There were four children in their house on Winslow St. in Lexington: Hannibal, Pierre Jr., Charlie T., and daughter Mary [source: U.S. Federal Census]. Pierre's oldest son Hannibal died of consumption at 26 years of age in 1907; he is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate and Record of Death Registered no. 543].

By 1918, Pierre's son Charlie T. was employed at Michler Brothers, a greenhouse located at 415 W. Maxwell Street in Lexington [source: Charlie Whiting's World War I draft registration card]. When he returned from military service, he was employed with Louis Michler as a chauffeur [source: p. 765 in Lexington City Directory, 1923]. In 1920, Pierre and Nannie's son Robert W. was included in the census record for the family. In 1930, the family was living on Euclid Street (Adamstown), according to the U.S. Federal Census. The address is given as 247 Euclid Avenue on p. 615 in Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, 1930.

Beginning in the 1930s, there were a series of deaths in the Whiting family. Pierre and Nannie's  son Pierre Jr. died in 1939 and is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered no. 699]. Pierre Sr. was a widower when his son died [source: U.S. Federal Census]; his wife Nannie Scott Whiting had died in 1936, and she, too, is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registered no. 1123].

Pierre's first wife Florida Young Saunders died in 1940, the widow of Edward Saunders. She is buried next to her son Hannibal Whiting in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death, Registrar's no. 204]. In 1943, Piere's son Robert Willie Whiting died of lukemia; he is buried in African Cemetery #2 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death, Registrar's no.1060].

Also in 1943, Pierre Whiting's house was one of the homes in Adamstown that the University of Kentucky purchased with the intent of tearing the houses down for the building of Memorial Coliseum. The land was referred to as the "Field House Property" in the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees' Minutes, January 12, 1943, p. 63 [available online at ExploreUK]. The Whiting home was purchased for $1800 [p. 64]. 

Pierre Whiting and his daughter Mary moved to 181 Colfax Street [source: Polk's Lexington (Kentucky) City Directory, 1943, p. 343]. Charles, a chauffeur for Thomas B. Cromwell, lived with his wife Millie at 561 S. Upper Street [p. 343].

Pierre  retired from the University of Kentucky in 1945 and died April 7, 1949 [source: Kentucky Certificate of Death Registrar's no. 344] and is buried in African Cemetery #2. He lived to see the integration of the University of Kentucky in March of 1949.

Pierre's son Charlie T. Whiting died in 1958 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Lexington. Charlie was a veteran of World War I [source: U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans]. Prior to his death, he was a clerk at O. S. Honaker  when he and his wife Millie lived at 741 Whitney Avenue [source: p. 760 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1958].

Pierre's daughter Mary Whiting was a cook at Donovan Hall Cafeteria on the University of Kentucky campus in 1958. She had moved from the home on Colfax Street to 512 Lawrence Street [source: p. 760 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1958; and p. 728 in Polk's Lexington (Fayette County, KY.) City Directory, 1960]. She retired from the University of Kentucky on June 1, 1971, having been a cook at Donavan Hall for 15 years [source: University of Kentucky Board of Trustees' Minutes, May 4, 1971, p. 20 - available online at ExploreUK]. Mary Whiting died in 1973 [source: U.S. Social Security Death Index].

For more see "The Life story of Dean Whiting is the history of an institution," Kentucky Kernel, 4/22/1949, p. 5; and "Dean Pierre dies; served UK 57 years," The Kentucky Alumnus, p. 19; [both articles available online at ExploreUK]. For the earlier employment and resignation of Mary Whiting at the University of Kentucky, see the Board of Trustees' Minutes, April 6, 1954, p. 50; and the Board of Trustees' Minutes, June 1, 1954, p. 97 [both available online at ExploreUK].

Kentucky County & Region

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Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Whiting, Pierre, Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 26, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/index.php/items/show/3022.

Last modified: 2022-12-09 17:41:27